European allies condemn Israel's plan to build more housing units in the West Bank
In a rare move, key European allies — France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom — joined the U.S. on Tuesday in condemning Israel's plans to build 10,000 more housing units in existing settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Israel's right-wing government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also set to legalize nine smaller Jewish outposts on land the Palestinians want for a future state.
Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a war in 1967 and has since built more than 100 settlements there — which much of the international community opposes. The U.N. Security Council has called settlements a violation of international law, which Israel denies.
The joint U.S. and European statement said the countries "strongly oppose these unilateral actions which will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution."
"We were not surprised by the U.S. position," a senior Israeli official said in a statement to reporters. "We have disagreements for tens of years about these issues ... these disagreements did not and will not harm the strong bond between Israel and the U.S."
Some Arab states also condemned the decision. Qatar, which has no formal ties with Israel, called it a flagrant violation of U.N. resolutions and an assault on the rights of Palestinians. Egypt, the first Arab country to establish ties with Israel, said these measures will inflame tensions and violence already spiking in the West Bank.
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